Borromean Islands

Stresa Travel Blog

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Isola Bella gardens and Lake Maggiore.

I guess I'm supposed to type about my day trip to the Borromean Islands here?  I'm thinking so.  Oh, and please hang in there, this is my very first "journal entry" of all-time, so I'm sort of new to this.  Anyway, let's travel back in time to May 12th of 2007, shall we??  It was a crisp, clear Saturday morning, and the day before I felt that I had to go see something different in Italy, yet something relatively close to my apartment.  At this time in my life, I had been living in Italy for 11 months, but I needed a weekend to relax near my town, you know, to travel and see someplace new, but not to travel too far.  After contemplating where to go and what to see, I chose to find these so-called Borromean Islands that are located on Lake Maggiore, right next to the super-expensive/super-classy little town of Stresa.

Isola Bella garden.
  3 islands total:  Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori, and Isola Madre, which became my targets for that afternoon.

After about an hour's drive to Lake Maggiore, and after passing through some unexplored little towns along the way, I came to the town of Stresa, where I just happened to stumble upon some free parking spots for my car after making an extremely random, last-minute right-hand turn down some rarely traveled road.  Score 1 point for me:  free parking for the day.

Still not seeing any islands, yet with no visible line of sight of the lake, I decided to venture down a path at the end of the street.  I had a good feeling, though....I knew the islands were closeby.  I mean, they had to be....I had already found free parking, so I literally felt that luck was on my side.

White peacock on Isola Bella.
  Everything just seemed to be going my way.  And sure enough, after strolling down this little path that led to the lake's edge, I was not surprised at all to be staring directly at the closest, and the most well-known island, that of Isola Bella.  Score point number 2.

After finding out how to buy my ticket to to visit all three islands, I jumped on the next ferry and landed on the docks of Isola Bella.  I quickly scored another point (that's 3), since I had purchased my entrance ticket to the Palazzo Borromeo and the garden area before arriving on Isola Bella.  That meant I got to skip the extremely long line of people trying to buy their tickets and entered the palace with all the ease of a seasoned tourist veteran!  Palazzo Borromeo was extremely impressive and well-kept, I took some pictures that I wasn't supposed to, but that's the way things go sometimes.

Isola dei Pescatori.
  After browsing through room after room, the end of my journey on Isola Bella ended with me exploring the exquisite garden area, which was better than what I had expected.  The all white peacocks were an added bonus, I must say!

The next island that i ventured to was Isola dei Pescatori, the only island of the three that is inhabited year-round.  At least that's what I read.  Anyway, I quickly walked the entire perimeter of the island....no, I was not walking quickly, the island is just that small.  I found the church of San Vittore to stop in and visit, and took some great photos of the Palazzo Borromeo from the fishing shores of Isola dei Pescatori.  Oh, and let's not forget about the delicious limoncello that i bought, made right there on that very same island!  That's point number 4, for those of you that are keeping score.

Palazzo Borromeo from Isola dei Pescatori.

Off to the third and final island, that of Isola Madre.  My time was starting to wind down that day, I sensed the changing of the positioning of the sun and new that time was not on my side.  The docking area of Isola Madre was extremely impressive, talk about a wide array of flowers everywhere!  I quickly asked the gate attendant how long the palace on Isola Madre would be open until, and then off I went, only having the next 45 minutes to see the palace.  The garden area leading up to the palace was on of the highlights of this particular island, not the palace itself.  After briskly walking through the palace, I found I had some free time left over to go exploring on the island.  Isola Madre offered some nice trails through the forestry, which was exactly what I was looking  for.

Arriving at Isola Madre.
  Time for a little bit of silence, away from the other tourists.  And my exploration paid off, about 10 minutes later.  As I was walking along this wooded trail around the back of the island, I came to a clearing, where a peacock was in full-spread of it's feathers, or whatever it's technically called.  I couldn't believe how close this peacock let me get to it, with it's feathers still spread wide open.  I took my usual pictures, and off I went.  Score point 5 for taking cool nature photographs, which always make reflecting on a trip that much more enjoyable.

While driving back to my apartment, I realized what a great day trip the Borromean Islands were.  A last-minute tip I would offer everyone is that visiting these islands by yourself is very enjoyable, but this may be a trip best experienced with a significant other.

Peacock!
  While walking around the islands and jumping from ferry to ferry, everyone I saw, literally everyone, was either husband and wife or boyfriend and girlfriend.  And me.  Maybe it's because of all of the gardens, or the lake, or the mountains that surround and enclose the three isands.  Who knows.  Either way, if you have free time and are in the area, be sure to pay a visit!! 

 

 

jtnoogen says:
Nice journal entry, and nice find. Though, I can't say I want to see the white peacock... sorry.
Posted on: Jul 03, 2007
Aditu says:
Yay, point for your first journal entry and I get to be your first journal entry comment, lol. That does sound like a beautiful place, I'd like to see the white peacock...hint,hint.
Posted on: Jul 02, 2007
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Isola Bella gardens and Lake Maggi…
Isola Bella gardens and Lake Magg…
Isola Bella garden.
Isola Bella garden.
White peacock on Isola Bella.
White peacock on Isola Bella.
Isola dei Pescatori.
Isola dei Pescatori.
Palazzo Borromeo from Isola dei Pe…
Palazzo Borromeo from Isola dei P…
Arriving at Isola Madre.
Arriving at Isola Madre.
Peacock!
Peacock!
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photo by: alexchan